My passions drive me; teaching children and writing stories. God blessed me with gifts and avenues to do both things. Twenty-three years in education has allowed me to contribute to the shaping of precious children. Nothing makes me smile like looking inside the mind of a child. So innocent, honest, and each one unique. I love it!
God recently opened doors for me to pursue my passion of writing. Writing stories was always my means of an escape. When being creative, I haven’t room in my mind for the stresses of my career in which I have no control…state mandates, home environments of my students, The Third Grade Guarantee, push of new ideas to implement into an already overflowing schedule, and so on.
Although writing fiction, specifically teen & young adult is my preference, I’ve felt a push over the last year to write nonfiction in my field. Why? Teaching in the thick of it all forced me to take a step back and look at teaching with a new perspective. If I didn’t do this, I would’ve drowned. In all my years of experience, I can honestly say I’ve never seen things so out of our control. By “our” I mean us, the teachers in the thick of it. The teachers in the trenches.
As a means to survive, yet maintain my effectiveness in the classroom, I had to approach everything new with three questions.
- What form of this new concept am I currently implementing in my classroom?
- What from this can I add to my toolbox? Not overflow it so that I’m overwhelmed.
- How does this idea or concept fit into my teaching style? I refuse to change who I am as a teacher. I’m more effective when I’m her.
I have great respect for experts in their fields or methods of teaching, such as differentiation, RTI, guided reading, guided math, close reading, etc. The reality is, I am responsible for teaching common core standards and administering a high stakes state mandated test. At the end of the day, it’s my name at the top of the list of scores, whether I agree with it or not.
I can’t possibly implement every concept or method in the truest form. I need to take a common sense approach to analyzing it all by asking myself the three questions above. I’ve found if I do that, I’m more effective because I’ve added to my box another tool to help children without feeling like I’m a failure because I can’t do it all.
If anything I’ve learned helps even one teacher, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. We are in this together. We are in the thick of it. We need to lean on each other now more than ever. It’s my hope to ease the mind of every teacher of feeling that we are failures if we can’t juggle everything and implement all thrown at us the way it’s presented to us.
As I’m finishing up the final edits of my first book of The Teachers in the Trenches Series, I invite you to sign up through email to receive a free copy. Book one will focus on my common sense approach to Differentiated Instruction.
The start of the school year is just around the corner. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of you summer. Relax. You deserve it.
A Teacher in the Trenches